Understanding SyllablesReference > Literature > Poetry > The Bard
Before you can begin writing poetry in most of the English poetry forms, we need to start with one of the most basic building blocks of human speech: the syllable.
What is a syllable?
Every word you ever say is made up of syllables. Some words have lots of syllables, while other words have just one or two. What is a syllable? Well, one definition puts it like this:
Want me to put that in simpler terms? Basically what it boils down to is this: every time you make a vowel sound, you're saying a syllable.
Be careful, though; you might be tempted to think that you can just count the vowels in a word to find out how many syllables the word has, but that's simply not true. The syllabic count and the vowel count may not be the same. Consider the following words, which were all used in this paragraph:
- careful - has three vowels, but only two syllables, because the "e" is silent.
- though - has two vowels, but only one syllable, because "ou" is pronounced as a long "o" sound.
- syllabic - has two vowels, except that "y" is functioning as a vowel, and the syllable count is 3.